I ask my patients to not to eat out for the first three months on my program. Say what? From No Grain, No Pains: A 30-Day Diet for Eliminating the Root Cause of Chronic Pain.
Eating In is In and Eating Out is Out
I know this is a radical change for most of you, even for the 30 days in the subtitle of this book. Here is my logic: in order to heal your body, whether as a result of gluten sensitivity, gluten intolerance, or simply difficulty digesting gluten, you cannot continually re-inflame it with problematic foods. If you never give your gut a rest, you cannot heal. To do so, you need to be in complete control of what you put in your mouth. In order to avoid corn, vegetable, soy, and other bad oils; as well as hidden glutens, GMO foods, conventionally grown foods with pesticides, and other toxins, you (or a family member who is on board with the program) need to be the one shopping for ingredients and preparing the food. I realize that this can be a lot to ask in this day and age, but it is essential for speedy and permanent healing. Once you are well and your pain is but a memory, you can probably have the occasional meal out without fear of relapsing.
Here are two more reasons to avoid eating out. The more choices you have, the more likely you are to unwittingly stumble into the grain (and other problematic ingredients) zone. Finally, as you well know, unless you’re eating Frankenfood at a fast-food joint, you’re lucky to get away with a tab of less than $30 per person.
I do realize that not dining out may not always be possible because of work, family, or travel obligations, but I will ask you to do so only when absolutely necessary. Try to clear your schedule as much as possible before you begin the program, and then follow these tips if you must dine out:
• Always eat before you go, either a good-size snack or a meal, to moderate your appetite and boost your self-control.
• Go for the social interaction, not for the food.
• Grab a drink instead of a meal at big parties and buffet dinners
• Bring a tray of gluten-free alternatives to help the host and provide a safe fallback for you.
• If there is a vegetable tray, enjoy. But pass on the soy-based ranch dressing and the like.
• Avoid alcohol made with grain, which includes beer, ale, sake, rye, bourbon, whiskey, and most other spirits. Instead, have a glass of wine or a cocktail made with rum, grape vodka, or tequila. Alcohol also tends to relax your inhibitions, so beware of straying from your dietary regimen.
• At sit-down events, simply serve yourself acceptable foods and avoid the others. If your hostess forces something on you, take a small portion and leave it on the plate.
• Before eating at a restaurant, check out the menu online, decide what you will order, and stick to it. All chain restaurants and most other dining spots now post menus online.
• Avoid restaurants with cuisines that rely on breading and battering foods. Pizza and pasta places and pancake houses are also danger zones.
Coping with social issues with eating gluten-free: visit glutenfreesociety.org/no-grain-no-pain-social-challenges-gluten-free/.
When I’m not at home, my usual lunch solution is reheated leftovers from the previous night’s dinner packed in a wide-mouth metal thermos, which is easy to eat from. This means meat (or poultry or fish) and vegetables, perhaps as a stew, stir-fry, or hearty soup. Avoid plastic containers, which usually contain hormone disruptors. A main-dish salad is another option. Making enough food for more than one meal is a great time- and money-saver. To avoid monotony, simply freeze single-size portions of different dishes (with the exception of salads, of course) and defrost the night before you plan to eat them.
If you’re thinking you just don’t have time to make dinner every night, think again. In addition to cooking up a big batch of stew on the weekends, you can minimize nightly cooking by roasting a ham, beef, leg of lamb, or chicken on a weekend and using it as the basis for several other meals during the week.
Once people understand that a change in diet can solve their health problems, eliminate pain, and give them a healthier, happier life, I’ve found that transitioning from medications to dietary changes is an easy choice to make. And therein lies the genesis of this book. This program works. Do it, share it, and everyone will benefit.